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Jack Graham

Jack Graham wrote about Doctor Who and Marxism, often at the same time. These days he co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper.Support Jack on Patreon.

7 Comments

  1. arilou-skiff
    February 25, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

    I mostly agree with your analysis, however, I think the argument somewhat fails in considering what magic "is" in most fantasy contexts.

    Generally speaking Magic isn't considered to be without rules (even in something like Harry Potter) but rather it follows alternate rules. (often ones that makes a certain amount of symbolic sense but basically no physical or mathematical sense) so in most cases magic isn't production without labour, rather it is an alternate production method. (that, depending on how deeply it has been thought about, may be more or less effective than doing it the regular way)

    Reply

  2. Jack Graham
    February 25, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

    Thanks for reading, and for the comment.

    Yeah, if I were writing this now I'd do it differently, with better (more informed) things to say about the rules of magic.

    Reply

  3. liminalD
    September 4, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

    Hi, I just discovered this blog through Philip Sandifer's… you have some interesting stuff here and I look forward to reading more.

    I don't have anything hugely constructive to add here, your analysis is very interesting and makes a certain amount of sense – though arilou-skiff's comment above makes a valid point. I would like to add, however, that I don't think Rowling's Wizarding World was ever meant to be considered as something entirely self-contained, it seems to me a society constructed on the fringes of the 'Muggle' world, interacting with it on a daily basis. Presumably that's where the dishes and so on come from – the Wizarding World depends upon the Muggle world for mundane production. But then, that still renders much of the Wizards/Witches' activity meaningless, so the truth – as you say – is really just that JK Rowling didn't bother to think it all through.

    Cheers, and I look forward to wading through your other posts!

    Danny

    Reply

  4. Jack Graham
    September 4, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

    Thanks for reading. Yeah, I agree with arilou-skiff that what I wrote above doesn't really take into account the 'rules of magic'. I know a bit more about that now (partly owing to Dr Sandifer!) and would write the article differently today. Hope you enjoy the rest of the blog.

    Reply

  5. Macrospeaker
    October 4, 2013 @ 9:31 am

    I think there is one main issue with all of this, and that is, at least in my view, that magic is not done without effort. In the potterworld (at least I think) it takes a great deal of skill and (I guess you can call it) physical effort to make a spell work. Sure lumos is an easyish spell to do, but you still need to learn it the hard way and it drains on you if you use it. Probably creating physical objects would cause a constant strain in you and so making plates to eat from would just be to much effort for anyone to sustain. So there is value in material possesions and creations just like in the real world. As for quiddich, well to make a great broomstick it probably requires a great spell/charm that is probably difficult to perform and learn.

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  6. Anonymous
    March 24, 2014 @ 12:10 am

    "There is a fundamental misunderstanding of humanity at the heart of all this. What's missing is an awareness of humans as, essentially and fundamentally, producers rather than simply 'actors'. "

    Are people who aren't able to produce anything [other than the biological basics – CO2 and waste], then still human?
    Bluntly, how does this theory apply to disabled people? Specifically, someone unable to be a 'producer' on the level that people outside themself (gender neutral singular, not a typo) would consider significant? (Since there are of course plenty of disabled people who are 'producers' – but not everyone can be.)

    Reply

  7. Jack Graham
    March 24, 2014 @ 3:03 am

    I'm increasingly embarassed by the crudeness of this article.

    You are, of course, quite right to raise this issue. I should have specifically widened the sense of 'production' to include all sorts of activities other than physically 'making things'. People who can't physically make any stuff at all (including any services) are still producers in that they produce relations, ideas, speech, and thus social life, and thus (in our system) capital, etc. If our system considers this insignificant then that shows its own ruthles focus on commodification.

    This tends to undermine the idea behind this essay, which rests on a – it seems to me now – somewhat crude idea of social production.

    That said, I still think there are problems worth exploring with Rowling's picture of production and action. But I need to do better. Or someone does.

    Thanks.

    Reply

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